The British prime minister is facing a fresh backbench rebellion over his leadership.
Less than an hour before resuming parliamentary business after the Christmas break, Gordon Brown learned that two former cabinet members want a secret ballot over his future.
In a letter to Labour members of parliament, Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt say this is the only way to decide the issue “once and for all.”
“Many colleagues have expressed their frustration at the way in which this (leadership) question is affecting our political performance,” Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt said.
“That is not the way in which a political party can successfully campaign to win a general election. This mechanism will allow us to resolve those matters once and for all,” Hoon added.
With a general election due by June the challenge could not have come at a worse time for Brown, although he has been making up ground on the Conservative opposition in recent polls.
Senior cabinet members have come out in support of the prime minister saying it is ‘business as usual.’
It may be too late anyway for the party to replace Brown as leader as there’s no proviso for a secret ballot under Labour’s constitution.
Nevertheless, the ballot is expected to be held next Monday.